Itemised payslips to be made mandatory for workers

Amendments to the Employment Act were tabled in Parliament on Monday, including measures that will require employers to provide itemised payslips – electronic or otherwise – to their workers. Key employment terms will also have to be made known within 14 days of employment.

“Itemised payslips and KETs benefit both employees and employers. They provide security and assurance to employees about their regular salary components as well as main employment terms and benefits. For employers, issuing payslips and KETs in writing helps to minimise employment disputes,” Channel NewsAsia reported the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) as saying.

The lack of itemised payslips has often proven to be a problem for workers, particularly low-wage migrant workers in the construction or shipyard industries who are vulnerable to exploitation and wage theft. Without itemised payslips, workers have often found it difficult to provide MOM with evidence of withheld wages or unpaid overtime.

However, migrant rights activists say that itemised payslips alone are not enough to protect these workers from wage theft.

“In HOME’s experience, employers who cheat and exploit workers often pressurise them to sign fabricated pay slips, blank papers, and in some cases forge their signatures. The Ministry of Manpower is usually unable to do anything when this happens and will refer such cases to the police for investigations,” wrote Jolovan Wham, executive director of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME), in a statement to the press.

Other activists and social workers The Online Citizen spoke to also said that forged payslips were a matter of concern. They urged the government to couple itemised payslips with electronic payments, which would leave an even clearer paper trail of payments and deductions.

“We also recommend the Ministry of Manpower to complement the compulsory issuance of pay slips with making it mandatory for work permit holders to be paid through Giro. Companies who hire S Pass workers are already subjected to this requirement,” Wham said.